Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: What We Know and When We’ll Know It

It’s been a long road.  After eight years of negotiations 12 countries finally agreed on something.  That alone is a pretty big deal.  Getting 12 people to agree on one thing is hard enough.  Unfortunately, I think much of the story about the TPP so far has been distorted by misinformation and anxiety on the part of the general public.  It has been hard to debunk the myths, scaremongering, and misconceptions about the TPP thus far because there is not enough information to present in response.  We had that problem because until last week, there was nothing.  We had statements of priorities from various trade representatives, but no actual deal.  A statement of your priorities has all the standing of a grocery list.  You need your partners to agree to the same things for them to have any meaning. 

            And as for agreeing, that is exactly what we have now.  Last week the Office of the US Trade Representative released some general information about the agreement, and an expectation to have the written pact in approximately thirty days.  The Canadian representatives said they hoped to have a text published in time for their elections on October 19.  I do not share their optimism.  I expect the thirty days from October 5 is more realistic.   Although, they could always surprise you.  So, for now I do not have much analysis to offer due to paucity of anything to analyze.  What I have seen gives me a sense of optimism.  For the first time, a free trade pact includes sections covering environmental protection and labor standards.  The US Trade Representative seems particularly excited about the environmental protections, given the prominence of the issue on the website.  I could offer an analysis of the website, but that would amount to a discussion of an ad campaign.  I would certainly have to recant some of my conclusions once the text of the pact gets published.

Watch this space.  I’ll have more to say when I have more to read.  For the time being, I advise you to chill out.  People are getting overly excited, because we are still short on information.  Wait and see.  We won’t have to wait long.

Hash it out in the comments.  And remember, I’ll be watching.

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